Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label Shakespeare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shakespeare. Show all posts

Monday, 1 July 2013

Siamese Cats, Symmetry and Disappearances

In a comment to my last post John Gray remarked attentively: 
                                                 That is ONE. Art Deco cat  
"Potzblitz!", as people around Frederic the Great would have said - or, also charmingly old-fashioned: "Ei der Daus!" (Nowadays even Google says only "Oops!", not even "sorry" - but what can one expect of an institution that - at last in Germany - also doesn't know the word "please"? "Sign in!" they bellow). 
            So: only ONE cat. How could I overlook that? Do I become professionally blinkered? I mean, being deeply involved in Crime TV, of course I know "Silver Blaze" by Sherlock Holmes, the famous short story 

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."[

(Yes, from this short story Mark Haddon got the title "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"). 
So: There is only ONE cat, says John. Where is the other? 
In Germany we have a saying - "He said he just left the house to buy some cigarettes"  wails little wifee - meaning: he will never return - up and away he is, the rogue. Trying to Catch a Carven A?  
Had the cat sneaked away? Applying for  a major part in "A Lady  Cat Vanishes"? 
Our German poet Matthias Claudius has written a beautiful song, "Abendlied" - (see my translation on my blog Britta's Happiness of the Day:
There is more moon, says Claudius, as you sometimes see. 
Or as Shakespeare said:
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
I love Zen. As you know there is a general absence of symmetry in Japanese art. Okakuro notes that true beauty "could be discovered only by one who mentally completed the incomplete."  
But for the lovers of Western harmony I added the second cat above, symbol of the Egyptian god Bastet
Is it perfect now, John? 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

"Blackbird singing in the dead of night"

Looking a bit tired at the moment? 
Some of the culprits for what is commonly called 'springtime lethargy' might be our feathered friends: at 4:18 dear robin starts its song, followed at 4:28 by the blackbird, at 4:33 the wren adds its lovely tunes, 4:38 the great tit joins in, then at 4:58 the chiffchaff, and 5:04 the trillions of sparrows we have in Berlin, (and what they chirp I don't call song). 
Our sociocritical poet Bertolt Brecht, "poor B.B.", expressed it in his inimitable unfriendly way: 
"By morning in the grey dawn the firs piss, and their vermins, the birds, start to scream..."  
Old sourpuss - I prefer those noisy concerts to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring!  
Talking of birds: yesterday a biologist might have described the look that husband and I exchanged in the underground with the reaction of male sparrows when they have to listen to the songs of their competitors:  tartish. Our amygdala was tortured by two women (each with a child) who discussed the interesting details of a friend - "and then he said..." "and I said: What???
They sat far apart, so they had to shout very loudly - which didn't disturb them a jota, but the rest of the compartment looked pained (except those lucky ones with headphones on).  
Did you know that sparrows or blackbirds that live in cities trill their songs much louder than their country relatives? Most people think that they thus try to outdo the noise of cities - but Danish biologists found out that city architecture matters too: high houses reflect sounds in a different way, so they calculate the echo of buildings. And weather is important: the more it changes between damp and dry the more complex the sound sequence. They say. In Maryland researchers listened over thirty years to the songs of sparrows (oh my God - what a (wild)life!) and found out that only the melody in the beginning of their songs remained the same over time - the middle part changed drastically, the trill at the end became shorter and shorter by time.  
The sparrow-girls throw their little hearts to the boys with the most variations - 
"O fortune, fortune! all men call thee fickle" (Juliet in Capulet's orchard).